Promoting social innovation


Social Innovation

“Character is not created in isolation or repose; it’s forged through interacting with others and the world.”

David Corbett

And then…

imagine a world in which your employees sat at their workstations in silence, did what was required of them and then went home on the dot at 5pm. And imagine a world in which news reporting, if it existed at all, was confined to bare facts and in which commentary and opinion simply didn’t exist. What I’ve prompted you to imagine is a world locked into stasis, sterile and devoid of interaction and imagination. What you’re imagining is a world of control and ignorance and decay.

It’s a world which I would argue many totalitarian idealists would seek to create but it’s also a world which in its purest form couldn’t exist with people in it. And the reason is quite simple. Man is a social animal and the history of mankind is one of social interaction. Yes it’s true that at times in our history we’ve tried to work under a more controlling model but sooner or later that model fails as our innate sociability comes to the fore.

Stop isolating, start creating

Quite simply, people are not machines and the sooner that businesses realise this and instead start to tap into the vast wealth of creativity which a more sociable model delivers, the sooner businesses will start to deliver genuine solutions forged in the furnace of innovative social collaboration. When we sit on our own, we only have our thoughts, our training and our abilities to draw upon. When we share and tap into the thoughts, training, perspective and abilities of others then our ability to collaboratively create soars beyond all imagination.

As Helen Keller said,

“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.”

So why do some businesses still seek to isolate people, either with silo working or even silo tasks? Is it a question of control, or are leaders so used to working in isolation themselves, that they can’t see the potential which a more collaborative culture could deliver? Whatever the reason, it’s becoming increasingly clear to me that businesses which cling to the command and control model are in danger of being swept aside by the disruptors who have embraced a more collaborative way of working.

It’s a social media world

The truth is that the current social media age has perfectly created the conditions in which a collaborative model can thrive. Yes there are inherent dangers when chat rooms and social media platforms become closed talking shops but I would argue that they are far outweighed by the potential which social interaction can bring. When we can collaborate not simply with the colleague on the next desk but with customers, suppliers, academics and even competitors then our potential for innovation is virtually unlimited.

And I don’t simply have to rely on open social media platforms in order to collaborate. Collaborative idea management software such as that provided by Wazoku enables the targeted creation of communities and social interaction with a view to building insight, dialogue and solutions. This takes idea creation away from being the targeted preserve of the few and instead opens up the potential for innovation to everyone. Social platforms also open up the way for interactive learning as well as enabling the formation of teams made up of individuals working from multisite locations.

We are social beings living in a social world. As my good friend and Wazoku CEO Simon Hill said “we are all innovators.” So, isn’t it time that we gave everyone the chance to collaborate and play their part in delivering real solutions forged through interacting with others in a technology enabled, digital and social media world.

This article was written by Cris Beswick for Training Zone and previously posted on 30/11/2016, http://www.trainingzone.co.uk/community/blogs/crisbeswick/promoting-social-innovation

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